How to write the best possible job ad (and attract the right candidates)


In today’s market, it can be a tough gig convincing the most talented candidates to choose you over a competitor. While the power of your brand plays an important role, for the vast majority of employers, it’s the lowly job advertisement that is most depended upon to attract applications from prospective candidates.

But how many of us actually get it right? You only have to look at a handful of job adverts online to see there are as many good ones as there are bad. Here are our top 10 tips on how to write a better job advert and secure your best candidate shortlist to date.

1. Spelling and Grammar

We might as well get this one out of the way first because without a doubt, it’s one of the most important. Have a look at five to ten manager positions on a typical job board and see how many companies are advertising for ‘manger’ jobs. What on earth does a ‘manger’ do? Just as you would tut and shake your head upon seeing a typo in a CV, so will a candidate looking for a professional business with which to work. Write it, check it and then ask someone else to check it. Then check it again.

2. Tone of voice

The tone of voice in which you write will give prospective candidates some insight into the personality of your business and your company culture. Are you a corporate professional services firm looking for polished professional candidates? Make sure you reflect this in your language. Conversely, a trendy advertising and media agency with a more laid-back approach might use more informal language to give a more accurate impression of what it might be like to work there.

3. Avoid complex and lengthy headlines

The job headline should be the job title. After all, that’s what people will be looking for! If the job title doesn’t clearly describe the role, then use a strapline to do so. And on that note, if you realise you’re writing an ad for a job with an obscure job title which in no way conveys what the role purpose is, then consider changing the job title altogether.

If your business is well-known with a good reputation among your targeted candidates, then display the organisation or brand name prominently, either as a strapline or contained in the main heading alongside the job title, as well as incorporated in the body of the advert.

4. Keep it simple

Avoid jargon, elaborate design or multiple font styles. It should be very clear from a quick skim what the role is, who the successful candidate looks like, and why they should apply.

Assuming your advert is being posted online, it also needs to be easily searchable by relevant candidates looking via search engines. This means including keywords relating to the job type, the rank of the role and its location.

5. A clear layout

A powerful advert is succinct and to the point. As many of your candidates will be looking for their next life-changing role using their smart phones or tablets, brevity is critical. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and use bullet points to list key responsibilities or ideal requirements. More than twenty words in a sentence reduces the clarity of the meaning. After writing your first draft, find the commas and ‘and’s, and replace with full-stops.

6. Be excited

Do you want your candidates to be excited and enthusiastic about your unique opportunity? Assuming yes, ensure this is reflected in the writing of your advert. Take the following two extracts as an example:

a) The role has direct responsibility for all core operational departments, including sales, account management and administrative operations. Candidates will have P&L management experience and should be confident managing senior staff, each of which manage offices and teams.

b) Fully accountable for the operations and finances, we’ll look to you to maximise revenue opportunities, control costs and guarantee safe and healthy surroundings. We want our staff to love coming to work every day, and your role will make sure this is brought to life, through your fantastic interpersonal abilities.

While seemingly similar requirements are highlighted, which of the two would you rather apply for?

7. Why you?

All too often, we see ads that list a whole host of responsibilities and ideal requirements, with absolutely no incentive for the candidate to apply. Sadly, this implies arrogance but also signifies that there would be minimal advantages or benefits to working for your business. If you can’t sell the pros, one could assume there are none and therefore you don’t really care about your staff.

If you want motivated and ambitious candidates looking to make an investment in you, you should be prepared to do the same and give them some really good reasons as to why you are unique. Beware however, if your advert is littered with ‘too-good-to-be-true’ empty promises. You may come across as less than credible and walk away with a damaged reputation.

8. What do they want to know?

The structure and content of an advert can of course vary from one business to the next, and from one sector to the other. Generally, you should always include the following pieces of information:

• Overview of the position

• Location

• What differentiates this role from another in the same sector?

• What experience, skills and qualifications are required?

• How to apply/call to action

This last point would seem a bit of a no-brainer, but a simple instruction of what to do/what not to do is often missed, and obviously, quite important if you want them to get in touch!

9. Which job boards will your candidates be using?

There are a number of general job boards that the majority of job seekers use but there are also many industry-specific ones (for example, within the creative industry), that you may want to consider advertising with. Similarly, your target candidates may not even be looking online, in which case you’ll need to think about the publications they will be most likely to read and when.

10. Let them know what to expect next

Before you post your advert, think about how every applicant will receive a response. It doesn’t have to be personal – though of course that’s always best. An auto-responder that thanks them for applying and says you will get back to them by a certain date if you’re interested in hearing more, is a whole lot better than no response at all.

Why is this important? Other than basic good manners, you just never know where they might pop up in the future.

Tiger’s consultants are experts in helping you find outstanding candidates for each role. Get in touch today to see how they can help.

Author David Morel Tiger Recruitment Team

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